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Ivory Coast: Illegal gold digging destroying cocoa plantations

Cocoa plantations in the Nzi Comoe region in Ivory Coast are slowly being destroyed by illegal gold diggers said to be from Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea.

Large cocoa farms are being destroyed in search for gold, which is known to be the first ‘economic miracle’ of Ivory Coast, and which has been beneficial to its growth since the 1970s.

Every morning, in small groups, armed with pick-axes, shovels and hoes, the “peasant-miners” rush into the savannah in search of the “red Sika” (gold Baoule language, spoken by an ethnic majority in Ivory Coast) and have found it rewarding

Octave Kouame, 48, a “manager” of an informal mine said this has created imaginable opportunities for the locals.

“What people do not realize is that these are new buildings. Some can now actually afford their children’s school fees so we will not complain. We think it’s more cost-effective than agriculture,” he said.

Climate change is cited to be one of the main reason why there’s a rise in this trend, but some individuals like a man known to the media as Laurent, 20 years of age, argues this as an opportunity to make a quick fortune.

“I was working as a mechanic. I stopped and pursued this because it can make you rich. So that is why I left my mechanic job.”

Industrialists, some of whom work for listed companies and stock exchanges internationally say they are willing to avail their expertise in organizing the gold sector and help government leverage on it.


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